Crowne warns JFF in the face of potential Fifa intervention
FOLLOWING Fifa’s intervention in the Jamaica Football Federation’s affairs, after the postponement of the elections recently, noted sports attorney Emir Crowne says a potential normalisation committee may be warranted but has warned it may be harmful to the JFF.
The voting congress of the JFF was set for January 14, with the incumbent Michael Ricketts being challenged by current Vice-President Raymond Anderson for the presidency. However, the election was postponed for at least 28 days after an injuction was granted by the Supreme Court following an appeal made by Beach Soccer Jamaica.
There have also been several issues highlighted by the Ricketts and Anderson teams during the build-up to the elections, particularly with the eligibility of voting delegates.
Crowne told the Jamaica Observer that those issues have tarnished the electoral process.
“Based on what’s in the media, based on what’s publicly out there, I think it is fair to say that the JFF elections are tainted. I think it’s fair to say that the election bears the mark of an unfair process. This is just purely off what’s out there in the public domain, but I think some external oversight is, in fact, warranted. Now, whether that oversight or intervention is from Fifa or the courts is a different question, but at a minimum it’s fair to say the JFF elections are tainted and, so far, do not have all of the hallmarks of a fair election process,” Crowne said.
Following the postponement, Fifa communicated with the JFF that it, along with the region’s governing body CONCACAF, will be conducting a comprehensive analysis on the JFF’s statutes and regulations and will discuss the way forward — meaning no election can take place until that is done.
If Fifa is dissatisfied following their analysis they could appoint a normalisation committee, similar to what they did with fellow CONCACAF member association Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) in 2020. Crowne was the lead counsel for TTFA in their battle with Fifa at the Court of Arbritation of Sport (CAS) as well as Trinidad and Tobago’s High Court and Court of Appeal.
“I think it’s fair to say that normalisation is never a good thing. Even if the local Administration is on solid legal footing (and here I’m speaking generally), there’s more to football than merely the legality of a situation — football is political. The JFF needs to take Fifa’s existing intervention or correspondence very seriously. Even if one has a strong legal leg to stand on — and however one may feel about the legal strength of a case — there are other dimensions to being normalised,” he said.
A normalisation committee is typically appointed by Fifa to oversee the affairs of a national football association in cases where there are governance issues or concerns. Its primary role is to ensure the proper functioning and stability of the association until new elections can be held.
There’s also recent precedence regarding elections as in 2021 Fifa appointed a normalisation committee for the Guinea Football Association due to “a series of irregularities” that took place during its electoral process, and did the same with Chad’s football association for its “inability… to carry out an electoral process”.
Though not wanting to expand on some of the issues he’s had with the normalisation process, Crowne believes countries in this region may not find it pleasant.
“As I say, one may have a strong legal case, but small island politics are a lot more; small island dynamics are a lot more than pure law — there’s also the human element, the day-to-day element. Executives of sporting bodies like football, cricket, and track and field, they’re not really anonymous in small island countries; they’re quite visible, and West Indians generally have no problem expressing their views. So I would just warn them to consider the extra legal implications of it all,” he said.
Other countries, including Argentina, Greece, Egypt and Venezuela, have seen Fifa intervention through normalisation committees.